South West Coast Path:
Penzance to Porthleven
17 April 2011
|In which: George joins me for the
first time on the SWCP
● after 3 years I get closer to St
● the weather is glorious
● George keeps off the verge
● Lucy, Ellie and Hetty join me
|Time of walk: 0915 to 1600
Today's walking: 22.0 km
Progress along SWCP: 21.9 km
Estimated ascent: 939 metres
During a week staying at a cottage by King Harry's Ferry near Falmouth,
I managed to get three walks on the South West Coast Path, with Lucy
acting as chaffeur as well as joining me for parts of the walks, and
allowing the cavaliers to have shorter walks than George who was with me
from Penzance to Kuggar.
From the railway station at Penzance, looking across Mount's Bay to St
Michael's Mount. No sooner had I put my rucksack on, than I was providing
directions, something which I was called on to do several times today.
Two trains at Penzance wait to head east.
The heliport for flights to the Isles of Scilly
Approaching Marazion, a look back along our route
As the tide was fairly low, the causeway to St Michael's Mount is fully
exposed. The Mount was a Benedictine priory, then became a fortress in
the 12th century, and its sheltered harbour a port for the export of tin
and copper. The Mount may have been Ictis, a tin-trading port mentioned
by Diodorus in the first millennium BC.
The route through Marazion was a bit of a trudge on inadequate pavements
buffeted by cars and coaches squeezing through the narrow streets, but
eventually we re-emerged onto farmland, with more retrospective views of
the Mount, with a better view of the castle from here.
We descended to the beach for a short way, then the route ascended via a
metal staircase which George repeatedly refused to countenance. A couple
who were walking their dog suggested that I wait for them, and George
would chase the other dog up the steps, but with George that seemed
unlikely. In any case the other dog didn't like the look of the steps
either, and tried to climb the near vertical soil cliff instead. I was
about to carry George when he summoned up courage and did the stairs at
Perran Sands as the path sticks to the cliffs and skirts the village of
Lucy is very anxious to apologise for George's alleged scruffiness
because she didn't have time to trim him before we went away. He looks
fine to me.
The rocks of Stackhouse Cove, with above them Acton Castle
And looking back across Stackhouse Cove
Some interesting vegetation on this big wooden post
George shows the way, crossing a heavily vegetated old wall as we head
for Piskie's Cove
The flowers were lovely, and the walk glorious under blue skies (albeit
a bit hazy) and on dry ground after weeks without significant rain.
The post and chain are associated with the salvage of HMS Warspite which
ran aground here in 1947 after breaking free from her tugs near the Wolf
Rock while en route to the breakers. The salvage operation took six
years to complete.
Approaching Prussia Cove
More buildings at Prussia Cove
And the cove itself. The cove is named after the King of Prussia, alias
John Carter, a notorious smuggler
Porth En Alls, the base for masterclasses of the International Musicians
Heading for the beach of Praa Sands
There was a sudden and still disconcerting interruption of beach
tourists at Sydney Cove with its Beachcomber Café. These arrivals in a
different world from the cliffs of the coast path are odd, and make me
feel strangely out of place (doubly so with a dog) and I often seem to
press on through them very quickly. Generally having both food and drink
with me for the day, there is little need to avail myself of their
facilities, though I got a few ice-creams between Padstow and St Ives
After the café there was a crossing of a car park and a large grassy
area then dunes, and then this road, with the odd request to keep dogs
off the verges. I vowed to do as requested even if it meant that any
cars would have to back up to let George past or follow him at 3 mph,
but sadly there were no cars moving.
Looking back at Praa Sands
From near Trewavas Head, there is a rock formation that reminded me of a
Interesting rock formations - I think this may be a mixture of granite
and slate, but stand ready to be corrected
An example of an old wall, on the far side of which the old path used to
lie, but where much of the wall has gone with cliff erosion.
Lucy, Hetty and Ellie had travelled to Porthleven, from where they
walked back to meet us just west of Parc Trammel Cove, here. Having
spent the day watching the clock and expecting to be early, the last
stages of the walk proved to be the slowest and we ended up a little
behind time, but nothing too major, and Lucy simply stopped and waited
for me when she'd walked far enough.
A monument to all those drowned who were buried on the cliffs rather
than in consecrated ground prior to the Burial of Drowned Persons Act
1808, prior to which drowned seamen were buried without shroud or coffin
and in unconsecrated ground, often after a lengthy delay.
Lucy and the cavaliers as we near Porthleven
And so, unlike earlier walks on the South West Coast Path
(chronologically, anyway), I didn't retire alone to a B&B room but went
back to our cottage with Lucy and the dogs - the B&B option is rather
more lonesome but not having to think about driving and routes home,
dinner for five, and plans for the next day has its advantages too. It
was good to do the first SWCP walk with George for company, and great to
have the five of us together for the last section.